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ChrisW

The Egyptian Palestine Medal

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Going through my collection and files the other day, I realized I had quite a bit of material on Egypt's Palestine War campaign medal, so thought I might try to put it all together here. Hope it's of some interest.

The Palestine Medal was the first modern Egyptiancampaign medal, for service in the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli war (aka Palestine War, War of Israeli Independence). For collectors this medal is one of the most commonly-seen andwidely-available modern Egyptian medals. (Also, interestingly, it is usually found with the ribbon intact, unlikemany other modern Egyptian medals.) This availability leads me to conclude that it was widely issued toEgyptian military personnel (again, unlike most other modern Egyptian service medals, which seem to mostly exist in ribbon form.)

The exact criteria are unknown – for example, whatperiod of time and geographic area qualified, or whether Egyptian civilianssuch as the Muslim Brotherhood volunteers were eligible.

The meaning of the distinctive shape of the medalis unknown. It is an irregularseven-sided shape, which may represent a stylized outline of the Old City ofJerusalem.

Dimensions are 45mm at the widest point, and 36mmat the tallest (not counting the suspension.)

The ribbon is 37mm wide, with equal stripes ofgreen, red, yellow, red, and green. The meaning of the ribbon colors are also unknown. The colors of the Egyptian flag at thetime was green and white. ThePalestinian national flag is red, white, black, and green.

The first group of images here are from what looks like a trial design for the medal, by the designer Tawfiq Bichay. These images are taken from an internet auctionwebsite, back in 2004. If I recall, this piece wasconsiderably larger than the actual medal, more like a clay or bronze model rather than the actual medal itself. The obverse features an obliqueview of King Farouq, though a rather unflattering one, with heavily-lidded eyesand rather comical mustache. (Ican see why King Farouq may have asked the designer to go back to the drawingboard.) Otherwise it's identical to the design used on the actual medal itself.

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Here's the reverse of the trial design, which was unchanged for the final design.

It depicts threeEgyptian soldiers marching towards the right, with their heads turned to theleft. From left to right, they area Navy sailor wearing a helmet and carrying a Lee Enfield Mk III rifle, an Armysoldier wearing battledress and helmet with a slung rifle, and an Air Forcepilot wearing a flight suit and flying helmet, with holstered pistol on hiship. Underneath them are variousPalestinian refugees fleeing burning and destroyed buildings in thebackground. On the right edge ofthe medal is the Islamic date 1367, and the corresponding Christian date 1948,both in Arabic.

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The final design of the medal as issued modified King Farouq, so that he was presented in profile, facing left. Behind him on the left is Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque, and on the right is another mosque, which might be Cairo's Al Azhar. Above are the Arabic words "miidaaliyya filistin" or "Medal of Palestine."

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This is an unusual variation of the King Farouq version of the medal, which I recently acquired. It's cast rather than struck, and is rather crude. The ribbon is also a little too new and fresh looking. This makes me think it might be a fake. But the market for Egyptian medals is so small, and the prices so low, that I don't see the point of faking these.

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One of the favorite pieces in my collection, a watercolor of the medal done by the designer and manufacturer Tawfiq Bichay.

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Following the overthrow of King Farouq in 1952, themedal was modified to remove the king’s image. The reverse of the medal became the obverse, and the former obverse with the king's image was now blank. It seems likely that not all medals were restruck with a blank reverse and reissued to the original recipients, so that recipients simply flipped their existing medals around.

Here's the obverse of the post-1952 version.

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There are two known devices/appurtenances to the Egyptian Palestine Medal.

The first is a bar, reading in Arabic "Waqa'a Filistin" which could be translated as "Palestine battles." This may indicate that the recipient saw combat. However, this bar is scarce -- I've only seen it on the medal in my possession and one at Cairo's Military Museum. Soldiers who saw combat in the war haven't been seen wearing this bar.

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The second known device for this medal is a brass stylized lotus blossom, a common symbol in Ancient Egypt, worn on the ribbon.

This may represent the bar previously described, but that's just a guess.

I'm not going to try to sketch the lotus blossom design, but it roughly looks like this (image stolen from a Google search).

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Here's Lt. Col. Zakaria Mohieddin wearing the lotus blossom on his Palestine Medal ribbon, in a circa 1952-1954 photo. (Mohieddin was one of the Free Officers who led the 1952 revolution.)

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And a closeup of the lotus blossom on Mohieddin's ribbon.

(Oh, photo credit: archive photo reprinted in Akher Sa'a magazine, March 7, 2001.)

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Finally, one of my favorite pictures of Nasser, during his (1955?) visit to Yugoslavia -- one of the last times he wore his military uniform, and the only photo I know of him wearing full-size medals. Among others, he wears the post-revolution "flipped" Palestine medal.

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Chris et al,

Great photo and as you say one of the few, if only one, with decorations being worn - taken during a visit to Belgrade:

Collar of the Nile - 1953.

Sash & Star of the Grand Cordon of the Nile

Star of the Order of the Republic.

Star of the Yugoslav Order of the Great Star.

Medals

Order of Liberation - Officers issue.

Military Star x 2 (one of these may have been isseud in 1948 and thus the royal issue - Chris?)

1948 War Medal - republican issue with reversed medal.

1949 Mohammed Ali Centenary Medal (without suspension wreath) - also reversed to obscure monarch.

Regards,

Owain

Edited by oamotme

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And addendum to my posts #11-13 in this topic, on the "Palestine Battles" bar, which I only just now stumbled across.

In SABrigade's superb display, seen here,

http://gmic.co.uk/index.php/topic/33949-the-endley-collection-part-1-the-sudan-and-iraq/page-5

he shows in post #88 a Palestine Medal with this bar, and says that this bar was issued to approximately 250 Sudan Defence Force volunteers who served with the Egyptian military during the war. Thanks for clarifying this, SABrigade!

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A nice photo of a young Egyptian Navy officer (probably a cadet at the Naval Academy?) on his wedding day, wearing the Palestine Medal. Note the suspension bar.

(His youth and the absurdity of his uniform leads me to believe he's a Naval Academy cadet, Egyptian service academies are prone to these sorts of costume.)

(And I'm not sure how a cadet could qualify for a campaign medal. Perhaps part of his training included a combat cruise?)

Edited by Chris Weeks

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Here are the 3 medals I have in my collection, all came from Egypt, but I realise that 2 have the wrong ribbons, what was interesting was they came from different sources several years apart.

The smaller version is also thinner

The first image is exactly the same weight as the 2nd but with much sharper/crisper detail.

DSCN1390.JPG

DSCN1391.JPG

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Very interesting medal design.  Have any of you seen any medal bars that contain medals from all three Israeli wars (1948-72)?

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7 hours ago, Paul R said:

Very interesting medal design.  Have any of you seen any medal bars that contain medals from all three Israeli wars (1948-72)?

Paul,

Egypt only issued campaign medals for the 1948 war and the 1973 war.  The Victory Medal was issued to commemorate the first anniversary of the UK/French withdrawal from Suez in Dec. 1956 war, but there wasn't an actual medal for that war itself. And the 1967 war, Egypt didn't have much to celebrate about that.

Best,

Chris

Edited by ChrisW

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LOL.  Yeah- 1967 was a bad one, but they all ended negatively for Egypt in the end.  

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